2014 has been a year of freaky weather. It could be really hot and sunny in the morning and suddenly pour cats and dogs in the afternoon with some lightning thrown in for good measure! So you could imagine how apprehensive we were when we heard the Sagai had come in to the inshore reefs just off Singapore. Fishing in stormy weather isn’t fun, not to mention dangerous when you’re right in the face of thunderstorm. But anglers being anglers… how could we refuse after seeing photos of good Sagai (Trevally) catches from the local captains. And so our day begins…
The morning was fairly quiet as we had missed the tide. However, things started to fire close to noon when we started seeing surface commotions and feeding activity on the calm water. Interestingly, we only caught small fish by micro jigging with 12g Gomoku Micro jigs. The bigger ones were somehow not interested in our jigs, despite casting right into the feeding Sagai. Our captain was saying they had caught them on pencil baits on a trip prior. And so, we brought out the NORTH CRAFT BMC 100F lures for a ‘walk’.
First random cast and the slowly-worked NORTH CRAFT BMC was intercepted by a Sagai.
No qualms about whacking such a big bait!
Next up to get into Sagai action was Andrew!
I don’t need to tell you he was having a blast!
This one also took the NORTH CRAFT BMC 100F in SPCD colour.
Andrew’s ON again!
Suddenly Andrew was engaged in a battle of epic proportions. A big Sagai had hit the BMC on a slow retrieve and decided to head towards the reef in the same direction as the current. Just when we started seeing some spool, the fish decided to stop and head away from the reef. Assisted by the strong current, pulling back the fish was an uphill task. Sadly, the hooks gave way after a prolonged battle on the micro outfit of a Storm Micro Jigger and Daiwa Luvias 1003. But you could see that Andrew took it rather positively despite the lost fish as he went on to cast again for the next fish.
This time it’s Nigel’s turn!
All this while Nigel was at the bow casting away with the new Storm Shore-X casting rod (PE0.8-2.0) He had several good fish on but somehow they managed to throw the hook each time after hookup. For those that he managed to secure, they gave a good account of themselves on the light casting outfit.
A happy camper!
NORTH CRAFT BMC 100F in SPCH
However, SPCD was the colour of the day!
No other colour could compare during the Sagai feeding. Seriously. This intrigued us too!
Jigging became conducive later on in the afternoon.
Andy hit the jackpot with two delicious Coral Trout one after the other on Storm Super Gomoku jig (We suspect it must be the lucky red shirt!)
Of course, the Queenies were fast and furiously entertaining!
The new Daiwa Kohga 100 is a suitable micro jigging reel for these micro jigging applications.
As light gradually faded, so did the Sagai surface frenzy. We were grateful that we had perfect weather throughout the day and got to enjoy quite a prolonged session of Sagai casting.
At the end of our trip, we swapped notes and found that among all the BMC lure patterns that we tossed, the Sagai seemed to zero in to a particular colour – SPCD. Even other pencil lures with a similar, white base pattern were ignored. They were locked onto something that had a semi-translucent colour. We later discovered in the afternoon that the Sagai were actually hunting down groups of squid, chasing them to the surface before wolfing them down. Each time we saw ink being squirted on the surface it would be quickly followed by a loud “whoosh”! Gotcha! We could only deduce that the SPCD colour was very similar to the translucent colour of the squid and therefore, looked like the real deal. We did try other colours of the NORTH CRAFT BMC but only those with a translucent sheen such as the SPCD and SPCH worked. Even then, the SPCD outshined the SPCH!
TIP: The NORTH CRAFT BMC 100F were worked very slowly. There’s not a lot of aggressive jerking involved, but rather a gentle, sub-surface, side-to-side sliding action. Basically using the rod tip to work the lure.
With such a wide expanse of water, finding the Krasoob (Sebarau / Jungle Perch) hideouts of Khao Laem may not be easy. But with the right guide, right tackle and local knowledge, even wet weather is not be an issue. Daniel Wan reports.
The action was pretty hot over at Huat’s boat (read catch report) despite the rain. Pla Krasoob (Sebarau/Jungle Perch) and Pla Chado (Toman) were hitting lures without being bashful. They weren’t big – at most a kilo or two but the lack of size (in Thai standards) was compensated with numbers. As long as your lure was presented close to the sticks, you had a good chance of being slammed.
Simple water bungalows where the locals live.
Ready to rock and roll in wet weather gear!
Heavy gear for heavy cover fishing.
Storm Serpentino for walking the dog in heavy cover
The rain had not ceased for two days according to our local guide Pi An. Rain or hail, we had already arrived after a 5-hour car ride a night earlier and we sure were determined to catch some Krasoob. Our guides arrived at our water ‘bungalow’ just after 6am all ready and set to go in their traditional Thai long boats. I was impressed!
Every traditional Thai boat was equipped with a Minn-Kota thruster!
At most places where I’ve fished around the region, anglers were the ones who had to wait for the captains or guides but here in Thailand, it’s the other way around. That’s the amazing Thai culture and service. The other thing that impressed me was that each long-boat was powered by a big long-tail engine and equipped with a Minn-Kota thruster! Awesome!
Bee with a Krasoob on North Craft BMC 120F
Our party of six set off in three boats for the western side of the lake. Our initial target was to be Chado on topwater lure but rainy weather is usually not good for Giant Snakehead. The next target was naturally the Krasoob. Our first sortie yielded only small Krasoob around the sticks with X-Rap Count Downs.
X-Rap Count Down delivered the fish.
We did have a few near misses on the surface with Storm Serpentino topwater hollow baits – big swirls and explosions that didn’t result in hookups. Too bad! Quite naturally, one would work even harder upon seeing your mates at the other boat hooking up Krasoob one after another!
Small but still a Giant Snakehead nevertheless – on Storm Serpentino Brinjal.
At times, the Krasoob were out and about hunting in heavy cover terrain.
BOOM! The ‘Nemo’-coloured Serpentino went under! Fred waited for the line to tighten then struck back to drive the doubles through. The sudden surge of speed was unmistakably Krasoob! On a topwater hollow bait! The fight was short and brief. Fred flashed his trademark smile with the fish in hand for the camera and duly released the fellow thereafter.
The ‘Nemo’ coloured Storm Serpentino did well for Fred.
Don’t strike immediately, let the fish take the lure and turn the other way before setting the hook with a few quick cranks of the reel handle.
Risto Rap 8cm is never too big for the ferocious Krasoob
This wasn’t the only fish caught on the weedless dog-walking lure. Fred went on to produce 2 more Krasoob and a Toman to the tally. We were convinced this lure is a must when fishing heavy cover, especially when the fish are accustomed to the noisy splashes of weedless frog lures. A more subtle action seemed to arouse the curiosity of careful fish.
Not exactly minnow-friendly terrain.
Most of the rivers were murky, thanks to the heavy rain. We had to venture into the tributaries to search for clean running water trickling down from higher grounds. Fred and our local friend, Pi Too entered this little cove with a little river pushing out clear water into murky surroundings.
How’s that for a fat Krasoob on a Rapala Clackin’ Minnow?
Rapala Flat Rap was an excellent choice to roam over the aquatic plants just a few feet below the surface.
What happened next was a scene every angler would kill for. Pi Too’s pink Clackin’ Minnow was hammered by plenty of Krasoob! Every other cast would yield a sizeable fish! Fred quickly swapped over to a Flat Rap and was soon in business! These Jungle Perch were absolutely fat!
“Mooo’ve it! Cows coming through!”
Jack and I explored another tributary with similar surroundings; hilly terrain all around which fed clean running water into the murky lake. There were clumps of aquatic plants sitting perhaps 3 feet below the surface right in front of the stream. To the left was some fallen timber. A textbook Krasoob hideout.
One of the many Krasoob on Storm Twitch Stick
The new Scatter Rap Shads worked too!
Jack decided to check out the edges of the aquatic plants with a Storm Twitch Stick while I fooled around a bit with the new Rapala Scatter Rap Shad which was supposed to swim in a sweeping, evasive, zig-zag fashion. Perfect for such shallow water conditions. Both lures got nailed without question. The fishing began to slow down after several Krasoob were landed and released. This was to be expected as the fish would have wised up to the swimming vibrations of our lures.
Unique “Demon” pattern had plenty of hits.
Give a shout out for the Rapala Flat Rap in Pink Candy!
Dinner time is always my favourite time of every fishing trip. This was no different. Pi An brought us some excellent home-cooked Thai dishes that left me in ecstasy after the meal! There was a particularly special dish worth mentioning that we had that night: finely minced Pla Krasoob with chilli, basil and lemongrass topped with Krasoob scales deep-fried into crispy flakes! The taste was simply out of this world!
This kid caught this nice sized Krasoob right in front of our water bungalow!
The spicy minced Krasoob with scales deep-fried to a crisp! Ooh! Heavenly!
The sky cleared up a bit on the subsequent day. We interchanged fishing partners and I would be fishing with Bee for the day. Now that the weather was a little more warm and sunny, the Krasoob frenzies mellowed down with only a handful of fish caught here and there close to the running streams. Fishing was a little tougher on this day but that made each fish caught the more fulfilling to us, being able to entice the fish to take our lures when they’re off the bite.
Easy does it!
Deeper waters required deeper-diving lures. In this case, it’s the Deep Tail Dancer (TDD07)
Jack with a Krasoob caught on Rapala Scatter Rap Shad in Baby Bass colour.
Rapala RFS Finesse Series Elegance (2-6lb) was great fun for fish of this size.
It wasn’t always Krasoob that took the TDD07s. Sometimes Chado came by too.
The afternoon sun was beating down on us when we arrived at this spot which roughly translated to ‘Lion’s Cave’ in Thai. It was a prominent, vertical rock wall with some rocky structures underwater. Fred and Jack were already there and by then, had already landed many good-sized Krasoob on Rapala Flat Rap 8cm and X-Rap Countdown 7cm. Having had their good share of fun, they were kind enough to let us have a go at the willing fish. How could we decline the offer?
The rocky face of the ‘Lion’s Cave’
First, the shallow-running lures caught the fish…
When the fish went deeper, this Trigger X Minnow rigged Jika Style were able to entice them at that depth.
Flat Raps, Storm Twitch Sticks – minnow profile lures darting just a few feet under the surface was too enticing for the Krasoob. Bee and I were having a whole lot of fun! We soon gave up photographing the catches and concentrated on the fishing. As expected, the fish soon wised up to the lures and the Lion’s Cave became still. Silent.
What else but the shallow-running Rapala Flat Rap in Pink Candy
Zig-zag actions of the Scatter Rap can sometimes turn on passive fish.
The panicky lures swam back to the boat untouched. We figured since there was some structure below, the fish may have gone down a little deeper, hugging close to the structure. That was when the Deep Tail Dancers (TDD) were brought out for a swim.
Surprisingly, Bee told me the Deep Tail Dancer was not a popular lure in Thailand as most local Krasoob hunters preferred the Risto Rap. I love the Deep Tail Dancer 7cm (TDD07) and it’s a must-have lure whenever I target Jungle Perch. There’s just something about the sexy tail-kick action, especially when you jerk the lure a bit on the retrieve. Like a light switch, the Krasoob were switched on again!
It was Krasoob one after another on the Tail Dancer Deep (TDD07)
Rapala Tail Dancer Deep (TDD07) in Golden Alburnus (GALB) colour was the top scorer before it was lost to a snag. Ouch!
We had an assortment of Deep Tail Dancers in various colour patterns and each of them took fish. Interestingly, the naturalistic colour of the Golden Alburnus (GALB) pattern accounted for the most fish. I could only guess that the Krasoob preferred a more natural-looking pattern in the gin-clear water around the Lion’s Cave.
Another rocky island which produced plenty of fish and fun for us!
All good things must come to an end and soon, it was time to bid farewell to our Thai friends. We were well looked after by Pi An, Pi Kuanchai and their team of guides, cooks and helpers at Khao Laem Dam. The food was superb, fishing awesome, and hospitality – uncomparable. That’s one thing I love about Thailand. After all, it’s truly the Land of Smiles. As with all major dams in South East Asia, such fantastic fishing conditions aren’t a given, even in wet weather when Krasoob are supposed to be feeding voraciously before spawning. But with the right guides, right tackle and some local knowledge, even wet weather conditions won’t be show stoppers.
Photography by Tan Kian Huat and Mr Lertsak Banklongsee (Bee).
Khao Laem Lake, located in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, is a 5-hour drive away from Bangkok. As in most fishing trips, weather is something rather uncontrollable and to a certain extent, unpredictable. We were informed it was going to be a wet, wet, wet trip! But as we’ve experienced before, the wet weather may not necessarily be good for Snakehead but will certainly be good for Jungle Perch (Sebarau / Krasoob)!
The north-western part of the lake is rather easily accessible by car and a short 5-minute boat ride from the simple, rugged ‘boat ramp’ brings us to our simple, yet cosy accommodation – a floating bungalow at the mouth of a little river.
Water ‘bungalows’ located at a little river.
Accommodation was basic – our beds were located right next to the dining area. Notice there were no walls!
The weather was gloomy throughout the trip.
Rain, rain go away! Come again another day!
The water had risen a bit and both Toman and Sebarau were hiding inside the weedy area.
The shallow-swimming Rapala Flat Raps were perfect for such conditions.
The Sebarau were quite big too!
Rainy days are… well, happy days… in a sense…
There were times when a lure or two got stuck in the sticks. Our helpful guides had no qualms about diving in to retrieve them!
The Toman were not large, but were around in good numbers. Twitching the Flat Rap got the sluggish ones excited.
There were some periods when the rains stopped and little insects came out for a breather.
Spidey needed a break from the rain!
Pi Too with a Krasoob on the new Rapala BX Minnow.
In slightly deeper waters, the Storm Smash Shad produced the fish.
On the other hand, the Rapala Scatter Rap Shads reigned supreme in the shallower waters. The Sebarau loved the erractic, zig-zag action!
Kian Huat displays a formidable fighter that took a Rapala Scatter Rap Shad in Alburnus pattern.
And another on the Rapala Scatter Rap Shad! This time it’s the Carribean Shad pattern that delivers!
Some majestic scenes from the lake.
Drop-offs about 4-5 feet from the banks often sheltered predators such as this Toman.
The Rapala X-Rap Countdown was a good candidate for these deeper areas as it could be worked at variable depths.
Also accounting for some Sebarau too!
Kian Huat was on a roll catching Sebarau after Sebarau on Rapala X-Rap Countdown.
We suspected the Sebarau were feeding voraciously – fattening up before spawning.
Mr Bee checking out every ‘fishy’ looking spot.
His efforts were not in vain. This Krasoob responded to a classic Rapala Count Down.
We’re always excited when we encounter flowing streams like these on rainy days!
Fishing the mouth of these streams often meant hitting the JACKPOT!
The Rapala X-Rap Countdown proving it’s worth for Kian Huat.
While the flashy chrome finish on the Flat Rap continues to draw interest in the shallows.
Amidst the Sebarau and Toman action, Kian Huat also managed to pull out a very nice Snakehead.
No prizes for guessing what’s Kian Huat’s favourite lure of the trip – yup, it’s the Rapala X-Rap Countdown!
Cattle crossing a channel.
There’s more crazy fishing action to come. Stay tuned for Part 2!
Fred Goh and Storm Angler Wong Kok Ping go fishing for Peacock Bass with the new Storm Gomoku Micro Series ultra light lures such as the Gomoku Minnow, Gomoku Stiletto (Gomoku Bottom), Gomoku Vibe and Gomoku Pencil in Tasik Raban (Chenderoh), Malaysia.
Slow jigging is gaining popularity not just because it is more relaxing but also the possibility of catching a larger variety of fish species. One of the species that we had trouble catching consistently until recently was the Golden Trevally. Understanding the behaviour of the Golden Trevally as well having a better grasp of the slow jigging technique and tackle setup have certainly helped us improve our catches dramatically.
The Golden Trevally uses its protractive mouth to suck out prey from the sand or reef and consumes a variety of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. Therefore, one of the key points to note when targeting them is to keep the jig close to the seabed and work it slow.
It is better to tie two sets of assist hooks onto the jig; one set on top and one on the bottom.
They have rather thick lips and mouth cavity so sharp hooks are preferred.
Although they are not as speedy as their cousins, the Diamond Trevally, Golden Trevally have better stamina and will fight to the end.
Slow style jigging jigs such as the Storm Gomoku Koika are great for targeting the Goldies.
They are known to grow up to 120cm and about 15kg. Locally, a 5kg fish is considered a good catch.
Golden Trevelly are not excellent on the plate and they are beautiful fishes that deserved to be conserved. We do encourage anglers to release them so that they can continue to fight another day.
The inshore waters off Kota Belud are surprisingly productive for light jigging!
Joseph Ngai sends in his recent catch report.
This trip was planned the day before the last day of Ramadhan. We decided to put some light jigs into the water as weather was just too perfect for some short inshore fishing. Since one of our friends was still fasting, we planned it as a leisure outing just to chill and relax, compared to our usual morning to late afternoon session. Nonetheless, results were not disappointing for only a 3-hour session.
This 11kg Mackerel caught soon after we started our jigging session. Storm Gomoku Erito was put into the test when Sabrey targeted to land this fish as fast as he can.
The Storm Super Gomoku jig 50g BSRD draws first blood with a juvenile Trevally.
Close up: Gomoku Erito, Sufix 832 10lbs, Sufix Invisiline 15lbs, Storm Super Gomoku 50g BSRD.
Storm Gomoku Erito PE0.8-1.5 fully loaded. Again, Sabrey was amazed with his new light jigging rod’s lifting power.
A good-sized GT by Kota Belud standards.
After losing one of my favorite BSRD Super Gomoku jigs, I was lucky to land this juvenile mackerel without having to lose the same coloured jig again.
Since Sabrey was still fasting, we wrapped up our short jigging trip with a good-sized GT. Scored with the BSRD Storm Super Gomoku 50g – the pattern of the day!
Yu Hock and I had the privilege to fish with one of the best Australian tournament bream anglers, Tim Morgan right after the conclusion of this year’s Australian Fishing Tackle Association (AFTA) Show in Brisbane.
The initial plan was to fish for Australian Bass at Moogerah Dam on the first day and then proceed to fish Moreton Bay for snapper the next.
It was like 5°C when Tim picked us up on the first morning. After about 2 hours of driving, we finally reached Moogerah Dam. Moogerah is a very well maintained dam, just like the many dams around Australia – with proper toilets and boat ramp. We spent about 3 hours sounding for fishes but they were not as many as reported by fellow anglers fishing there a couple of days ago.
We did try to make a few casts but did not manage to get even one hit. After making a few phone calls, Tim decided to move to another dam nearby. We pulled the boat up and then drove for 20 minutes to reach Maroon Dam. It is a very small dam but Tim seemed very confident that this place would produce some fish.
We fished a small patch of weed, which held some bass according to Tim. After making a few casts, your truly finally got a hit on a prototype Storm Soft Vibe. After a few fancy rod moves, the first Australian Bass of the day was landed. Confidence increased as the 3 of us start casting and combing the patch of weed. More Australia Bass of 30cm to 40cm in size were caught. The lure worth mentioning for the session was the Rapala Jigging Rap, which accounted for most of Yu Hock’s catches.
We ended the day feasting on chicken roll sandwiches, which Tim prepared on board. What a way to end Day 1!
Our second day started as early as 1.30am! Yes, dragging our feet out so early in the wee hours of the ‘morning’ to fish the Brisbane River (also known as Brissie River) sounded insane but Tim and his brother Steve think otherwise. The temperature was about 3°C if not lower. Honestly, both Yu Hock and myself were not very hopeful about the fishing. Staying in a tropical country like Singapore, it was hard for us to imagine fish biting in this sort of cold, dark morning. Furthermore, it was very uncomfortable to fish in such weather conditions.
However, our perceptions about fishing in such cold weather changed as under the guidance of the Morgan brothers, we were treated to a wonderful session of casting in the dark. I managed to catch my very first Threadfin Salmon in my life.
It was an 80 to 85cm specimen caught on a Rapala Scatter Rap Crank. Yu Hock did very well too with the Rapala X-Rap Countdown 7cm, landing a Jewfish close to 1 metre. The last fish of the casting session was a smaller Jewfish caught on the trusty Rapala Scatter Rap Crank again. All 3 fishes were landed in a space of just 2 hours of casting. We decided to head for breakfast as the tide changed.
Yu Hock looking pleased at his capture. This fish was worth fishing in freezing temperatures!
Little Jewie on Rapala Scatter Rap Crank.
Our last fishing session was at Moreton Bay. There were reports of big schools of Tailors caught a couple of days ago but again they were missing by the time we were there. We decided to fish the pillars of the port for Jewfish, without any results. Tim then decided to teach us some techniques about Bream fishing.
The condition of the water was not really ideal but through his sharing, we managed to catch 2 small Bream! One of the Bream was caught on the new Storm Gomoku Stiletto / Gomoku Bottom. We were mighty impressed by this tiny lure! It’s surely going to be a very popular Bream lure!
We decided to end the session early as we also wanted to visit some local tackle shops so we finished off the day with a treat of fresh prawns bought from the local seafood shop .
It was a wonderful experience for both of Yu Hock and I. Many thanks to the Morgan brothers, Tim and Steve!